Late-silent movies with a few jarringly gratuitous talkie scenes are among the freakiest evolutionary specimens Hollywood history has to offer. Unlike most such films, however, The Love Trap takes a quantum leap in quality... more » when it switches to talkie mode for its final reel. Now, this trifle about a chorus girl (the lumpish Laura La Plante) who escapes from a caddish high-society type (Robert Ellis), gets married to a nice high-society type (Neil Hamilton), and triumphs over his priggish family's hypocrisy never comes close to being a memorable comedy. But the minute director William Wyler has to stage a dialogue scene, his camera suddenly becomes alive to space, depth, and his actors' physicality in a way that anticipates the deep-focus dynamism of his mature visual style. You can learn more about Wyler in the 55-minute companion documentary, Directed by William Wyler, featuring an all-star cast of interviewees and a funny, leprechaunish "performance" by Wyler himself--three days before his death, as it turned out. --Richard T. Jameson« less
Robert M. Fells | Centreville, VA USA | 11/25/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A new release of an obscure 1929 part-talkie, THE LOVE TRAP, seems to have come out of nowhere but we're glad it's here. This romantic comedy starts off as a traditional silent film, complete with its original synchronized music score. Then about half-way through, all the characters start talking. Despite the fact that the film changes audio-visual mediums in a flash, director William Wyler keeps rolling as though nothing has changed. Indeed, it's tribute to the young director's skill and talent that he basically preserves the jaunty pace of the silent footage even with the addition of spoken dialogue.A mint quality print both pictorially and aurally, this forgotten film is a rediscovered gem. Star Laura LaPlante is remembered, if at all, for her role in the spooky 1927 silent, The Cat and the Canary (also on dvd these days) but her personality really shines in THE LOVE TRAP and it's easy to understand why she was so popular at that time. The film's leading man is Neil Hamilton, a fairly well-known actor in the 20s and 30s, who fell into obscurity thereafter but emerged in the mid 1960s as Police Commissioner Gordon in the famed Batman TV series. (His story of faith and perserverence through those long years of obscurity made a big impression back in the 70s).The real star of the film though is William Wyler who manages to distinguish this rather slight story with many witty directoral touches and flourishes. KINO VIDEO has again, as it did with its release of Wyler's Counsellor At Law, produced a vivid transfer. A bonus documentary of Wyler, originally produced in 1986, is included on The Love Trap disc and provides interview footage of the director that was made only a few days before his death. All considered, a highly recommended dvd of a film worth rediscovering."
A Sweet and Fabulous Silent
Bobby Underwood | Manly NSW, Australia | 02/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Laura La Plante is simply terrific in this late film from the silent era. The transistion to talking films obviously took place while this was being filmed by a young William Wyler. Rather than go back and tack on dialog to previously shot footage, Wyler chose to just suddenly have the spoken word midway through the film.
The level of silent filmmaking is so incredibly well done, however, that when the transition occurs it is not at all jolting to the viewer. In fact, though it is nice to have the stars speaking, it is really so well acted and shot that it is entirely unnecessary!
La Plante stars as Evelyn Todd, a chorus girl suddenly humiliated and dismissed. Her desperate situation leads her to take her friend Bunny's offer to attend a party and receive fifty dollars just for being there. But Evelyn is a nice girl, and she does nothing wrong. Her moral character leaves her literally on the street, in the rain, outside her old apartment with her bird and furniture.
Along comes a rich young gentleman in a taxi to rescue her. La Plante and Neil Hamilton are wonderful in the scenes where they come together under unusual circumstances and fall in love. The long row of taxi cabs rolling up one after another to load up Evelyn's stuff is both sweet and memorable. Their marriage of one week will have to overcome their difference in social class, however.
Evelyn will turn the table on Paul's uncle, who was at that party from her past and jumped to the wrong conclusion. The ending is both fitting and romantic, making this a worthy film in the William Wyler collection. The documentary of Wyler's stellar career included here is by no means all encompassing, but does offer a nice overview of a director inarticulate in person, but instictive at capturing what was real on film. Wyler was a director who only knew what he wanted once he saw it from his actors, causing him to do take after take of the same scene.
This is basically a silent film with some dialog that stands proudly beside other newly discovered silent films all buffs will greatly enjoy. A sweet and marvelous film with a fine performance from silent star Laura La Plante."
Jery Tillotson | New York, NY United States | 04/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This part-talkie from l929 is a must-see for any film buff who wants to behold that weird quasi-combination movie--"Part Talkie!"--popular back in those days.The first half of "The Love Trap" is a fast-moving silent with a pleasant musical score. Then the second half is an equally fast-moving talkie. And this is when you discover for yourself why the adorable blonde, Laura LaPlante, was such a big star back then. Her voice is musical and normal, so it's a mystery as to why she never continued far into the early talkies. She retired soon after making this movie. William Wyler let's her shine and despite all the horror stories one hears about how frozen actors were in l929 because of the microphone, you certainly don't see any of that stiffness here. Kino has done a beautiful job restoring and bringing us this unknown comedy from the great William Wyler. I'm getting ready to watch it again--and wonder anew why Laura quit the movie business only a year after "The Love trap" was released."
A Silent-Talkie Hybrid
Samantha Kelley | USA | 04/01/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Directed by William Wyler is an interesting albiet short documentary about an entertaining director of the golden age. His career spanned a great deal of time and we are delighted with interviews with stars like Bette Davis, Greer Garson, Barbra Streisand, Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, and even Wyler himself. Wyler is the best asset to the documentary because of his great sense of humor. We hear plenty of stories from him amid gleeful belly laughs that make him endearing even to those who are not fans of his work.
One of Wyler's more rare films, The Love Trap, is included. Evelyn Todd (Laura La Plante) is a chorus girl and a bad one at that. She gets fired from her latest job for ruining a chorus line. A friend invites her to a party where she can get paid $50 for doing "nothing." She finds out what a loaded word that is and flees the party minus her dress and her dignity. When she gets home, she finds that her belongings have been strewn onto the sidewalk by her landlord who only wants to be paid for the past few month's rent. It starts to rain, and with nowhere else to go, she sits down for a dreary night. Just then, luck finds her in the form of a wealthy man (Neil Hamilton) who offers to take her somewhere warm. She accepts hesitantly and soon finds herself married to the man. Unfortunately, his connections extend to wealthy men who attend parties with women who get paid $50 for doing "nothing" and she is recognized. Trouble ensues, but suddenly, the film turns from a silent to a talkie and loses all production value. The dialogue is simple, the camera is static and nothing is quite as pretty as it was only moments before. At the time, sound was a curiosity and a sensation around the world, but looking back, it didn't improve the films much, at least not at first. The most memorable bits of this film are the silent ones, especially Evelyn's stay on the side of the road."
Valentine to wyler
steven J. ross | memphis,tn usa | 02/07/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A gushing but useful and heartfelt valentine to Wyler, produced by his daughter. There's room for a different film on this alternately overrated/underrated director but we should be grateful that we have this one. Interviews with Wyler, his wife, John Huston, Audrey Hepburn and many others are quite good."